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As teams monitor players’ sleeping habits, NFLPA cries foul

Are NFL teams entitled to keep tabs on whether their players are getting a good night’s sleep? Or are a players’ activities on their own time their own business?

That question is at the heart of an NFL Players Association grievance over the use of sleep monitors. USA Today reports that NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith sent a memo to players saying that if teams want to monitor players’ sleep, teams need the union’s permission first.

“It has come to our attention that several Clubs are currently using or have used sensors to monitor players’ sleep,” Smith wrote. “Because the use of such technology occurs outside of games and practice, we believe such use violates the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Based on this information, the NFLPA has filed a grievance against the NFL and all 32 Clubs seeking an order compelling the NFL and its member clubs to immediately cease and desist from using unapproved sensor devices on players, unless or until such use is approved by the NFLPA.”

Some teams, including the Eagles and Seahawks, have said that sleep is such an important part of athletic performance and good health that they have an interest in knowing whether players are sleeping enough. From the NFLPA’s perspective, it’s none of the team’s business whether a player gets 10 hours of shuteye a night, or whether a player follows the Leonardo da Vinci/Cosmo Kramer method of sleeping 20 minutes every three hours.

The NFL says players have consented to sleep monitoring, but sometimes when a player consents to doing something the team wants, it comes after a not-too-subtle suggestion that he’d better consent, or else. The NFLPA wants to set clear guidelines for just how much of a player’s personal life a team can monitor.